The fan's story, which lasted a quarter of a century, ends.
The Ottawa Senators National Hockey League team appeared in my life a little over 25 years ago, in November 1996. In the summer, we, 13-14-year-old boys, discovered yard football, and when the snow fell, then even more yard hockey. On the passage between the houses, a tennis ball was chased with different-sized clubs, and the gates were marked with massive snow blocks. I was standing guard at this gate.
I was protected by felt boots, cotton pants and a sweatshirt, shields sewn by my grandfather and a lattice mask "like Hashek's", which I tied tightly with laces to a leather fur hat, and tied a thick scarf on my chin and nose under it. He wore a "trap" on his right hand - a knitted glove with sewn webs made of strips of rubber. A homemade blocker made of hard mustard-colored felt was attached to his left hand with straps. I wielded a yellow goalkeeper stick of domestic production without bending the hook, on which I wrote KOHO in large black marker across the entire width. A little later, in 1998, in the early days of the denomination, I got hold of a red "Alberta" stick for, as I remember now, 95 rubles (more precisely, I paid 90 thousand in banknotes, and another 5 rubles – with a new coin).
On both of these sticks, I wound a white Band-Aid: on the handle (necessarily with a "bump" at the end) and in place of the grip close to the expansion of the stick. There was a Band-Aid on the hook itself, of course. On it, closer to the very edge across the hook, I wrote "Damian Rhodes" in beautiful letters with a black pen and the second line — "Ottawa Senators".
The fact is that along with new sports hobbies, Panini albums with stickers have appeared in our lives. My friends collected stickers with Euro 1996 football players. I, on the other hand, from the filing of our main yard hockey player Anton Semykin, fell in love with the overseas ice squads. At his house, I leafed through the album of the 1996/97 NHL season, read stories about teams, asked about interested hockey players. On the spread with the Ottawa Senators, I really liked the sticker with goalkeeper Damian Rhodes. So I decided to write his name on my stick – just out of boyish sympathy.
I played well in goal. Probably, it's even good, since the guys were constantly indignant that their sharp attacks repeatedly rested on my arms, legs, head, torso, trap, blocker or stick. Naturally, they immediately noticed a modest text new thing on my equipment and immediately began to tease in retaliation for all the goals not scored: "Rhodes–ugly'des", "Ottawa–suck'ava" or more intellectually by the palindrome "Srotanes". Of course, it made me angry, emotions gave me excitement, so the gates were generally locked at that time.
At the same time, I wanted to answer the jokes of my comrades to the point. I became more seriously interested in the NHL and the Ottawa Senators club, regularly bought sports newspapers Sport-Express and Soviet Sport, watched the program "Super Hockey. NHL Week" on TV-chanel TNT. Soon I became attached to the team from the capital of Canada with all my heart, becoming its loyal fan.
Once Anton Semykin dragged me to a book fair at the Chkalov House of Culture – a cult place for all sorts of collectors of the Novosibirsk region: "it's time for you to buy an album!". So I had an album of stickers "NHL 1997/98". I carefully store it, all the stickers are collected and carefully glued into their places. And another plus one. This is a sticker from the album of the previous season with goalkeeper Damian Rhodes in the form of "Ottawa". Anton Semykin gave it to me: "Here, you deserve it. I have two anyway." And on his birthday, he presented collectible cards with Senate players. Among them was the card of my favorite goalkeeper, on the back of which he was wearing his amazing helmet "The Net".
I remember almost by heart the composition of Ottawa, which sensationally knocked out New Jersey in the first playoff series of the 1997/98 season. 4-2, delight! And Rhodes' incredible goal against the same "Devils"! But I couldn't share the triumphs with like-minded people then. There were probably no Senate fans in Novosibirsk at that time, otherwise we would have met at the book fair at the Chkalov House of Culture.
I found Senatorial friends a couple of years later, when I entered the Siberian Academy of Public Service in 2000. Her computer classes had unlimited internet. Of course, one of the first sites I visited on the World Wide Web was ottawasenators.com . In the same year, the website was opened on April 25 nhl.ru, which declared its mission to "Unite fans split by love for various NHL clubs and the players who perform in it!". The forum of this site became my home for the next 17 years. There I met the Russian-speaking fans of "Ottawa", we are friends with many of them today. My nickname Ottsen is also with me until now.
Together we survived the passing of Alexey Yashin. We watched the ascent of the Great Captain Daniel Alfredsson. In 2003, our hearts were shattered by Jeff Friesen's puck in game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
But we were also united by a common hope. The January 2003 nightmare with the bankruptcy of Ottawa and a debt of $370 million was dispelled by the savior Eugene Melnik. Already in May, he stabilized the affairs of the Senate, and 4 years later the team fought in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in history. In the same year 2007, all our thoughts were with the family of young Elgin-Alexander Fraser, a brave fan of the club who died prematurely.
We can say that with the arrival of Melnik, we witnessed the beginning of the glorious era of the "Ottawa Senators". A scattering of stars and young talents, inspired conscientious work of general manager Brian Murray, the highest expectations from each season. On the Forum nhl.ru where I was appointed administrator, communication was boiling, we began to visit each other. Recorded the most beautiful podcast in three parts and it was even banned by the KHL. On April 7, 2012 on the main sports website of Russia sports.ru I opened a club blog, which was recognized as the best on this resource. In 2013, a welcome video was recorded for our North American comrades (this video was published by the now closed website senstown.com). There was even a correspondence with the club's public relations department. Everything was going to ensure that the landing of Senate fans from Russia would arrive on a friendly visit to hockey matches in Ottawa.
However, these hopes and forebodings did not come true. Eugene Melnik started rebuilding the team, an "internal" salary cap appeared, the staff of scouts was reduced, and other oddities began. Soon, the owner with Ukrainian roots announced a boycott of all Russian in the Senators' system. Well, we survived it. How they survived the departures of the flesh and blood of the Senate – Captains Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, how they survived the sales of native players and stars, faded trades and unsuccessful decisions. The love for the club only grew stronger.
That loyalty was rewarded with the 2017 playoffs. I am convinced that if the Senators had survived that seventh Eastern Conference Finals match with Pittsburgh, if Chris Kunitz had covered that throw, the Stanley Cup would have been in the Canadian capital that year.
In August 2017, the creator of the modern "Ottawa" Brian Murray passed away. In bright memory of him, I then wrote an article "Sens Rushmore. View from Russia".
The club never made the playoffs again, and Murray's successor Pierre Dorion could not do anything about it. After the exchange of Nick Paul, who suddenly became the main old-timer of the Senate, I intended to write an article that would draw a line under the history of that glorious team: that's it, a new time has come, the time of Brady Tkachak, Thomas Chabot, Colin White and Alex Formenton. It was these boys of yesterday, selected by Ottawa in the drafts, who suddenly became the most veterans of the club. This article was supposed to appear today.
In the morning, on the trolleybus to work, I read about the death of Eugene Melnik.
What will happen to Ottawa? Moving, disbanding, rebirth - all options now look equally likely. Simply put, we don't know that. Most likely, general manager Pierre Dorion and head coach DJ Smith have been finalizing the last weeks. These specialists are unlikely to interest the new owners. After they leave, it will be a completely new NHL club. At least for me.
What should I do? Mikhail Glotov. Ottsen. This year I am 39 years old. The 20th season of the user on nhl.ru . April 7 will be the 10th anniversary of my silent blog on sports.ru . There are more than 1,500 participants in the group of Senate fans in the popular VKontakte social network in Russia. There is a cool team of like-minded people and high expert discussions, new interesting people come. The life of the community of Russian-speaking fans of the club continues.
Today I say goodbye to the Senate. The era of the Senate that I knew and loved is gone today. The fan's story ends, which lasted a quarter of a century.
Do I end up with her?
I stay to greet every day together with the Senate. The Ottawa Senators National Hockey League club today, as in January 2003, needs the heartfelt support of all its fans. A new era is coming. And it will be glorious if each of us is with the Senate.
!!!Go, Sens, Go!!!
The article was written on 03/29/2022